The effects of New Orleans' smoking ban, 100 days later

New Orleans is a magical place known for many things: music, food, architecture, festivals, partying — and a smoking ban?

In a city that knows how to let loose (and then some), that last bit might not sound very likely. I suppose you'll just have to consider it the new New Orleans.


That's a big no-no! Image via lolololori.

The city passed a smoke-free ordinance in January 2015, and it went into effect April 22, 2015, making it illegal to smoke in bars and the city's lone casino ... aka a lot of places in NOLA.

And time flies: Aug. 5 marked 100 days of New Orleans being smoke-free in these establishments. New data shows the effect it's had so far.

The city has seen a 96% drop in air pollution levels in less than four months.

The info comes from a study conducted by indoor air quality researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Their team set up shop at 13 different bars and one casino in New Orleans — before and after the ban was implemented — and used high-tech air pollution monitors to determine the amounts of fine particle air pollution in each establishment.

100 days. 96% drop in air pollution.

“We've heard from so many people in our bars, restaurants and casino who say they feel better and can breathe easier now without the stress of knowing they are in an unhealthy environment," said councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, the ordinance's chief sponsor.

The study might seem small considering there are a bajillion bars in NOLA, but the results of it are nothing to scoff at. Especially when you see how it adds to a larger trend happening in the United States.

New Orleans is just one more city added to an ever-growing list of cities and states going smoke-free.

The American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation says that as of July 1, 2015, 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have laws in effect that require restaurants and bars to be 100% smoke-free. Did your city or state make the list?

Map and data via American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

It's no secret that secondhand smoke is bad for you: It contains more than 7,000 chemicals with at least 69 that cause cancer. Asking people to take it outside can only help.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that's exactly what's happening. It's only a matter of time before that map is all blue, don't you think?

No one likes air pollution, and this is one easy way to reduce it indoors. Hooray for happier lungs!

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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